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A 'smart' driver's seat that responds to hand gestures

04 August 2015

German researchers have engineered a driver's seat whose shape and position can be adjusted by using simple hand gestures.

A few hand gestures at the side panel are sufficient to adjust the seat (photo: Isringhausen GmbH)

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, in collaboration with Isringhausen GmbH & Co, have engineered a driver‘s seat that can be calibrated intuitively through simple hand gestures. Using this system, the driver can move the seat forward and back, up and down, as well as setting the incline of the thigh support and back rest.

Various sensors are integrated into a synthetic side cover so that the seat reacts to the driver’s hand motions. Piezosensors are used to ensure that the motion-controlled system is activated. Proximity sensors, also built into the side cover, are then used to detect the hand gestures. A software program uses the information from all of the proximity sensors to determine more precisely the hand's direction of motion.

In order to set the seat position, the driver performs brief hand motions along the entire side cover – similar to a brushing motion on a touchscreen. Depending on the directional motion of the gesture (up/down, forward/back, diagonal), the individual seat elements are adjusted accordingly.

Once the operator has performed the settings, the gesture control automatically shuts off as soon as the hand is moved away from the sensor area. The driver then receives confirmation that the gestures were stored successfully via a display.

A fully functional prototype of the sensor seat will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

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